This particular post has been a long time coming.
For about a year and half I have been reading and studying California’s “Water Wars” and a natural outgrowth from that research directed me to want to know more about other natural resources.
Los Angeles County sits on huge oil reserves. Just how huge? I’m only now beginning to understand.
Recently I shared with you about the La Brea Tar Pits and while I was doing some reading, I came upon a few curious stories that really caught my attention.
In 1925, not long after the La Brea Tar Pits were recognized as a source of fossil fuel, California supplied half of the world’s oil and much of it came from Southern California. Currently Los Angeles County has about 30,000 active oil wells.
The Tar Pits are on the southern edge of the Salt Lake Oil Field, and with a careful eye, as you navigate the busy city you can easily spy evidence of active oil production. Oil rigs, or in some cases just a maze of pipes and low to the ground valves, share space with the Beverly Center Shopping Complex, the historic original Farmer’s Market and even CBS Studios.
But it’s the oil field adjacent the Salt Lake Oil Field I find most intriguing.
I presume that everyone has at least some impression of Beverly Hills? Let’s first take a very quick drive by Rodeo Drive.
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, is best recognized for its 90210 zip code. Of course it IS home to many celebrity addresses, but only a fraction of the city’s population lives in the “hills,” with the remainder in the “flats”–which includes four more zip codes.
At another time I’d love to share more from Beverly Hills which has a very interesting history; today I want to talk about what’s flowing beneath the famous streets.
Meet the Veneco Flower Tower
This is an oil derrick…or at least it houses the mechanics responsible for a substantial amount of oil drilling.
Beyond its unusual design and fabric wrapped covering its claim to fame is the location on the grounds of Beverly Hills High School.
Thirty to forty wells pump about 150,000 barrels of oil a year from the Beverly Hills Oil Field.
And not without its controversy!
In 2006 the court dismissed 12 lawsuits brought by Erin Brockovich on behalf of former Beverly Hills High School students, claiming there were unusually high levels of benzene and other toxic substances related to oil production, contributing to a suspiciously large Cancer cluster among Beverly Hills High alumni.
The city and school district had previously spent more than a million dollars to determine the area as safe, but for a time there was a great deal of worry and concern for the students.
Brokovich was later accused of participating in what may have been a rush to judgment in a grab for publicity, however, controversies still linger.
As a matter of general concern, not simply related to the high school, the city of Beverly Hills voted to ban all oil drilling after 2016.
Will they? Should they?
It’s such an interesting conundrum.
Oil drilling is a continual revenue stream.
This 150 foot tower represents between $300,000 and $700,000 annually in royalties to the school, covering 85% of teacher salaries.
Beverly Hills left an option open in their decision to “revisit later.”
I’ll let you know what they decide.
For more pictures of the oil fields of the Los Angeles Basin, including other well-disguised buildings, click HERE. I highly recommend looking at Westside & Downtown and Harbor & Long Beach.
Love it or hate it, it drives (pun intended) our economy and we are in a tremendously interesting crossroads as California begins switching over to more environmentally friendly fuel sources.
As the debate rolls on, my head just spins faster!
Stay tuned…I can’t get enough of this stuff!